After several weeks on hiatus, the Glee kids return with an episode title that lets you know pretty succinctly what the theme is going to be: “Frenemies.” Over the course of an hour, old friendships crumble and new ones are forged while certain pals with complicated relationships rediscover the simplicity of just being good friends who support one another.
Side note: It’s a relief to see the show return (at least this week) to the days of using songs that fit with the actual story line, rather than ones that are simply popular on the charts at the moment. And, clearly, the more recently-added characters are being phased out ahead of the series’ big move to the Big Apple in March.
We open with a jaded Santana (Naya Rivera), serving a not-so-subtly racist customer who tries the limits of her patience. Venting to Rachel (Lea Michele), Santana says that she hates her job and any success she may have had in landing a national commercial spot is dampened by the fact that she’s now known as “the girl with the raging yeast infection.” Rachel gives her a pep talk, during which Santana confesses that she was the driving force behind the anti-Rachel campaign back in high school. If this confession seems apropos of nothing, just you wait until it becomes convenient.
Rachel cheers Santana up during their chat by telling her that she’s going to be featured on the cover of New York magazine as part of promotion for her starring role in Funny Girl on Broadway. And if Santana would like, Rachel is more than willing to recommend her as one of the models for the photo shoot. They gush over their friendship to one another. Surely, nothing could ever come between these two!
Back at McKinley High, Artie (Kevin McHale) and Tina (Jenna Ushkowitz) talk about their friendship, which naturally leads to them singing a song about their friendship because that’s just what friends do. Their little ditty of choice is “Whenever I Call You Friend” by Kenny Loggins and Stevie Nicks. However, their bliss is short-lived when they find out from Principal Sue Sylvester (Jane Lynch) that they are tied for class valedictorian ahead of graduation. Of course, Sue has an evil-ish plan for just such an occasion, which is to have them face off in a valedictorian speech competition. Winner takes the top spot.
At Rachel’s New York magazine shoot, she is flanked by beautiful models, one of whom stands out among the rest. That skinny, busty knockout is none other than Santana, fantasizing about upstaging Rachel in a gold strapless gown and brightly-colored parasol to the tune of Sarah Bareilles‘ “Brave.” The foreshadowing of what is to come smashes down on my head like an Acme company anvil in a Warner Bros. cartoon.
Tina asks Artie to take the fall and allow her to be valedictorian because it would help her get into Brown, where she’s tragically been wait-listed. They bicker and it appears the competition is going to be down and dirty.
As for Kurt (Chris Colfer), he’s concerned that Elliot AKA Starchild (Adam Lambert) is trying to take over their band, which should be disconcerting except that Pamela Lansbury barely seems to exist. Kurt should be thrilled anyone wants to do anything with this random storyline, since it’s clearly soon to be abandoned. In fact, when Kurt reminds roomies/bandmates Santana and Rachel about their rehearsal appointment, Rachel bails to stalk her understudy auditions and Santana follows suit.
Tensions rise at McKinley in a sing-off between Artie and Tina who fight sing to the En Vogue anthem, “My Lovin’ (Never Gonna Get It).” Things get so heated that Tina accidentally pushes Artie out of his wheelchair, which earns her dirty looks from the entire room. Know your audience, Tina!
Kurt invites Starchild over for tea, sandwiches and sleuthing. His weak plan is to trick the glam rocker into admitting that he wants to take over Pamela Lansbury. In any case, by the end of the conversation, Kurt is convinced that he should learn to play guitar.
At auditions for Rachel’s understudy, Santana suddenly emerges in a skin-tight dress to sing Barbra Streisand‘s Funny Girl standard “Don’t Rain On My Parade,” much to Rachel’s chagrin. After the play’s director, Rupert Campion (Peter Facinelli), declares Santana amazing, he’s even more pleasantly surprised to discover that she went to high school with Rachel. This revelation leaves Rachel speechless.
Kurt and Starchild visit a guitar shop. Shortly after entering the store, Starchild and Kurt put on a performance of “I Believe in a Thing Called Love” by The Darkness, as one does in these situations. They seem to be getting along swimmingly. Back at the loft, Rachel complains to Kurt about Santana, who walks into the apartment in the middle of it all, completely unsurprised by Rachel’s anger. The two girls fight, with fast-talking speeches that dredge up old high school-age wounds until Santana tells Rachel, “You are short and you are awful and that is never going to change,” and Rachel promptly slaps her in the face. It’s at this point that Rachel tells her, “I think you should move out.” Santana agrees, right before finding out that she’s landed the role of Rachel’s understudy.
The valedictorian speech-off between Tina and Artie results in the two temporary frenemies deciding to put their friendship above winning. They both bow out of the competition, asking the panel of judges to cast their votes for their opponent. The unexpected result is a split panel vote, leading to salutatorian Blaine (Darren Criss) becoming de facto valedictorian.
At Funny Girl rehearsal, Santana and Rachel fight in her dressing room uttering threats of adorable, skinny girl violence. Rupert breaks them up in time to cue their rendition of The Police‘s “Every Breath You Take.”
In stark contrast, Kurt and Starchild are super chummy as they meet at the loft for sticky buns and conversation. Starchild assures Kurt, “I’m not trying to take over your band.” They decide to instagram the moment they became friends with Elliott planting a friendly kiss on Kurt’s cheek. In the hallway of McKinley High, Becky (Lauren Potter) relishes showing the the not-so-innocent-looking pic to Blaine, who maintains the appearance of calm despite the fact that the seed of doubt has clearly been planted. He arrives to the choir room graduation song and announces that he wants Tina and Artie’s help in the graduation song, complete with solos for them both.
After yet another angry fight, Rachel announces to Kurt and Santana that she’s moving out. While the carefree glee club kids sing Kelly Clarkson‘s “Breakaway” to rehearse for graduation, Rachel cries as she packs her bags and hugs Kurt goodbye, reserving an icy stare for Santana’s departing shot. And if this is any indication of what the remainder of the season holds, get ready for war!
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